Largie, Elgin Co.,
Providence of Ontario
October 28, 1868.
Dear Elder Beebe: - As I have never requested your views on any portion of scripture, you can greatly oblige me by giving your views through the “Signs of the Times” on Matthew 16:26 and also on II Thessalonians 1:10. Hoping you will comply with the above request, I remain,
John A. Leitch.
Reply: – The interrogatory in the first named passage was used to impress the minds of the disciples most solenmly with a sense of the importance of adhering strictly to the instructions contained in the context. They were uttered by our Lord on a most solemn occasion. He had warned them to beware of the leaven (or doctrine) of the Pharisees and of the Saducees. He had also informed them that their knowledge of him as the Christ, the Son of the Living God, was a revelation immediately from God the Father, of what could never be revealed by man. And also that this immediate inspiration, as the keys of the kingdom, alone can open or reveal the glory of that kingdom to any of the sons of men. “From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.” At this intelligence Peter began to rebuke him, and say that this should not be. But our Savior charged him with savoring the things that be of men, and not the things which be of God, and thereby he was an offense unto him; or as that word is used to signify a temptation unto him. He appealed to his passions with suggestions of human policy to avert the dreadful sufferings which were ordained of God, and on which depended the redemption of his people. “Then said Jesus unto his disciples.” On this most appropriate occasion in which Peter had proposed self indulgence instead of self denial. “If any man will come after me.” Let him mark well the self denying way which must be pursued: He came not from heaven to do his own will, or seek for personal exemption from bitter sufferings. As though he had said, Behold the sufferings which I must endure, the racking cross on which I am about to suffer, the terrible death I am about to die, the cup which I must drain, the baptism wherewith I am to be baptized, and learn in this an example of self denial and of cross bearing. When at his agonizing torture the heavens should be darkened, the rocks rent, and all nature convulsed; and then say, Who is he that will follow the suffering Lamb of God? Who will follow him beyond the gates of the city? Who will follow him without the camp, bearing his reproach? Are there any to be found to follow him in the fellowship of his sufferings? Let all such know, this is the test. “Let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.” As Jesus led the way, took up his ponderous cross, and denied himself, he marked the way with suffering and blood, in which his followers must walk, if they would follow him.
“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.” Mark well the illustration of this saying in the pattern. Had Jesus listened to the offense, or temptation of Peter, and sought to save his life, or to avoid the cross, the agony and death, he must have failed to accomplish our salvation. All, all would have been lost; forever lost. But he laid down his life that he might take it again. Blessed example! May God work in our hearts both to will and to do his good pleasure. His followers cannot be a self-indulging people. “Whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple (Luke 14:27).” Whosoever of the children of God will shun the cross of Christ, avoid reproach and persecution for Christ’s sake, shall lose his life; that is, as we understand it, the life and enjoyment of spiritual things, according to Romans 8:5-14. “For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die; but if ye through the spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.” To deny ourselves is to mortify the deeds of the body; and the body is dead, because of sin; and while we are at home in the body, we are absent from Christ who is our life. Take the illustration of the context, for example. When the time of trial, persecution or suffering for Jesus’ sake comes, like Peter, resolve that it should not be borne; seek to prevent it either by drawing a sword to fight it off, or by cowering before the damsel, and denying that we know the blessed Savior. In either case, we fail to secure our object. But when, like Paul, we die daily, and count not our own life or personal comfort dear unto ourselves, and are killed all the day long, and accounted as sheep for the slaughter, then we find our life, our peace, and our divinest comforts.
We come now to the words on which our friend desires our views. “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” Consider the question either in a temporal or spiritual application. Suppose any man could succeed in gaining all the world, and in coming into possession of it should have to immediately die and leave it; what has he gained, or rather what would it profit him? He cannot take it with him; he must leave it like the rich fool in the parable, to whom it was said, “Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee.” The soul as here used, means the life, or vitality. If a man has gained an undisputed title to the whole world, and ghastly death comes to cut him down, with what part of the whole world will he compromise with death? Should he offer it all, can death be bribed? Will death relent? Or can he carry any part of what he has gained with him to the world to which he is hurried away? Surely he cannot. Then he is profited nothing.
Now let us apply this figure where our Lord applied it - to his disciples. What will they be profited should they seek to avoid the cross of Christ, to escape persecution, or to hoard up the treasures of this world at the expense of their spiritual privileges? Alas! How many of them have tried the fearful experiment of selling their birthright privileges in the house of God, or in the enjoyment of their most sacred comforts in spiritual things, for worldly honors, fame, or wealth; or who to gratify present lustings or carnal gratifications would forego the pleasures of the Savior’s smiles, and for a mess of pottage barter away their birthright in the kingdom and patience of our Lord.
The application of our subject opens before us. The closing verses of the chapter give special force to our application of the text to Christians who transgress the laws of Christ, either to avoid persecution, losses or crosses, or to gain treasures of earth or carnal gratifications. “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father, with his holy angels.” When? Shall we say after the destruction of this material world, as the popular doctrine is? No; for Jesus said there were some standing there in the assembly before him who should not taste of death till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom. The coming of which he spake was when he should arise from the dead and ascend his Mediatorial throne, and preside in all his Father’s glory, power and Godhead, over his kingdom which was at that time about to be set up in its gospel organization, when his holy angels, the apostles, should sit on twelve thrones, and all his ministers should be with him. When he would judge his people, and award to every one of them according to their works.
Let then this lesson of profit and loss be duly pondered by all the children of our God; in regard to savoring the things which be of men, and not the things which be of God. We may begin our application with the newborn child of God. How frequently his savoring of things which are of men, carnal reasoning, or self indulgence, incline him to live in disobedience to the Savior’s great command to follow him in the ordinance of baptism. How many plausible reasons he will frame as excuses. One is inclined to wait for brighter evidences of a saving change; and continues to wait for the depravity of his old carnal nature to die out. He doesn’t want to profess to be a Christian until he is sure he will be a very good one. He will disobey the command of his Lord, and perhaps may flatter himself that he is not savoring the things which be of men, while he is in reality substituting his own carnal wisdom and prudence in place of the wisdom of God. What a plea! Don’t love Jesus enough to obey him, and yet waiting and hoping to grow better, and more worthy. Another is deterred from fear of more persecution or opposition than he feels able to bear. We have known some who have from some reason or another lived, or rather continued to disobey for many years. If we ask them concerning loss and profit, they have to confess they have lost the sweet privilege of communion and fellowship with the saints, but have gained nothing. They find themselves no better, no more worthy, and perhaps at last have to come out under the rod. The same carnal reasoning which savors not the things that be of God is not only betrayed in the young converts, but is often discovered in those of riper age. Its tendency always is to disobey the command of Christ in which he enjoins on all who love him to “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,” and to rely with implicit confidence on his gracious promise to supply all things else that we need. Instead of this, our fleshly wisdom inclines us to seek first for what we shall eat, drink, or be clothed, and first make provisions for earthly ease, comfort and convenience, and when our obedience to Christ will not require any sacrifice of carnal enjoyments, attend to the things of the kingdom. Self denial and cross bearing are involved in the pursuit of the things that be of God. But self indulgence and the gratification of carnal desires are present with us to oppose our obedience to the law of Christ. How lamentable to see the house of prayer forsaken by those who profess to be the followers of the cross-bearing Savior. Do we enquire of them the reason of their absence from the assemblies of the saints, we are told by some they have toiled so hard through the week to provide for their worldly gratification, they must indulge in rest, in order to so recuperate their physical powers that with renewed vigor they may resume their worldly pursuits and accumulate more treasures of the earth. Others have not found it convenient to attend, visitors have called, and it would not be considered polite to leave them. Or perhaps the weather is such that they cannot attend and fill their place without self denial. The law of Christ requires that we who know and love him shall hold all that we are, and all we possess as stewards in trust, considering that we are not our own, but bought with a price, and that all we possess should be subject to his orders. But when we have set our hearts on earthly gains, and idolize the mammon of this world, how self denying it is for us to impart of our abundance to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and look after the comfort of the widows and the fatherless, or to bear our part in meeting the pecuniary expenses of the church. But human prudence pleads the cause of the covetous delinquents thus: It is necessary to be close, saving, and penurious, or we will have to curtail our own extravagance, and make a less show; or if we are not very close, we shall come to want; in short, seeking to save our lives requires that we shall reverse the mandate from the throne of Zion, and make it read, Seek first what ye shall eat and drink, and wherewith to be clothed, and secure a competency, so that you will not have to trust in God to provide for your temporal wants, and after you have laid up all you desire for this world, then attend to the things of the kingdom. In this perversion of the laws of Christ, how about profit and loss? You have gained the world, and have become a slave to it; but your poor, lean, starving soul is perishing for the consolations of the gospel, and with all the treasures of earth which you have accumulated you cannot procure the exchange for it one ray of spiritual light, or one drop of spiritual consolation. “Be not deceived, God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to the flesh, shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the spirit, shall of the spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing; for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith (Galatians 6:7-10).” “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above; not on things on the earth. For ye are dead; and your life is hid with Christ in God. Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth (Colossians 3:1-5).”
There is yet another sense in which the disciples may seek to save their lives, and which to their sorrow they have found to be profitless. Yielding to the fear of persecution. We are informed that “All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution (II Timothy 3:12).” Our carnal nature shrinks from persecution, and our vain ambition aspires after the applause of the world, rather than its censures. We naturally dread to have our names cast out as evil, and that dread has too often ensnared some of the timid ones. To follow Jesus, they find they must associate with his poor despised followers, bear reproach and suffer mortification and shame. Near and dear friends and kindred in the flesh despise the company of those in whom we see the image of our Lord; but the trial comes, and can we break loose from all these earthly ties, forsake father and mother, brothers and sisters, wife, husband, or children, house and home? Will not some other way do? Can we not compromise this matter so as to save our lives in regard to the trial? As surely as we are the children of God, in doing so we shall lose what we are seeking to gain. The Lord himself has spoken it. Our only safety is to follow Jesus through evil as well as through good report, and obey his voice in all things.
“He will restore what we resign,
Or grant us blessings more divine.”
The admonition of our subject commends itself to all the children of God; to the public ministers of the gospel, they are not to shun to declare all the counsel of God, from any fear of consequences, but strictly obey Christ, and leave all the consequences with him. Exhorters should wait faithfully on exhortation; and each in his calling use the gifts which God has given, and speak as with the ability which he has given, and bear in mind that there is nothing we can possibly gain by shunning the dear Redeemer’s cross, or seeking self indulgence that can possibly be profitable to us, or yield us any spiritual consolation or benefit. “If ye love me,” says Jesus, “keep my commandments.”
We will now pass to the consideration of the text in II Thessalonians 1:10, “When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.”
We do not know on what part of this text our brother is perplexed, but we presume it is his desire to know what are our views in regard to the advent, or coming of our Lord, in the particular sense in which it is spoken of in this text, and its immediate connections. As the apostle speaks in his first epistle, prospectively of a day of the Lord, in which the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the arch angel, and with the trump of God, when the dead in Christ shall rise first, and then we that shall at that time be living on the earth shall be changed from natural to spiritual, from mortal to immortal, in the twinkling of an eye, and be caught up together with them in the clouds, and meet the Lord in the air, and so be forever with the Lord. And yet in this text he speaks of the testimony of the apostles having been believed already among them. But if we observe the parenthesis in our text, it will relieve us from what would otherwise seem quite obscure. The text will admit of the following rendering, according to the accepted rules of our language: When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired, in that day, namely, that day when he shall come, he shall be glorified in his saints, and admired in all them that believe: (for our testimony among you was believed). The testimony of Paul, and Timotheus, as contained in the first epistle, first chapter, and tenth verse, also in the fourth chapter, from the thirteenth verse to the end: this testimony was believed by the saints at Thessalonica, and now in the text under consideration, with its connection, is alluded to. But in the prospective day Christ will not only be revealed in his glory, and be admired by his saints, but he will also be revealed in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and obey not the gospel. Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power. And all this shall be accomplished at the very time embraced in the testimony which they had already heard and believed. In the time testified of, “When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and admired in all them that believe, in that day.” It is highly probable that the testimony in the first epistle concerning that particular day had been misinterpreted by some, and in a manner which had occasioned trouble to some others; therefore the apostle, in this second epistle, relieves their minds on the subject, and beseeches them by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together unto him, that they should not be soon shaken in mind, nor be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by the letters from him, or them, by inferring from what he or they had written, that the day alluded to was near at hand; for it could not come prematurely, or until a full development and revelation should be made of that man of sin, the son of perdition, which was to be destroyed simultaneously with the exaltation of the saints at the time of this particular advent of our Savior. “And now,” says he, “ye know what withholdeth, that he [the man of sin] might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work; only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming,” etc.
This explanation of the apostle was eminently calculated to allay the fears of the brethren, and to protect them from those panic venders who were troubling them with appeals to their passions in regard to the coming of the day of the Lord.
Before we close this article, we wish to express a few thoughts on the subject of the several advents of our Redeemer, as set forth in the sacred record. First, when the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. When he was made of a woman, made under the law to redeem his people. In that he came to be humbled, to take on him our infirmities, to bear our sins, to carry our sorrows, and to suffer the chastisement of our peace, to bear a cross, and to be reviled of men, to be a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, to be despised of men, and in the weakness of that nature which he took on him to know the feelings of our infirmities, to humble himself and learn obedience, even unto death, to suffer, bleed and die upon the cross, to be put to death in the flesh, buried in the earth, and rise from the dead on the third day. Here was an astonishing display of the love of God. He spared not his own and only begotten Son, but delivered him up to die, the just for the unjust, to be made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. To accomplish all this, he bowed his heavens and came down to our guilty world to do and suffer all that was written of him in the law, and in the prophets, and in the psalms. And having accomplished all that the Father gave him to do, he ascended up where he was before, and a cloud received him out of the sight of his disciples.
Again he came down on the day of Pentecost; not in a body of flesh; for though we have known him after the flesh, yet henceforth know we him no more. But according to his promise, “If I go away I will come again.” “I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” Faithful and true is his word of promise, he came to them in the descent of his spirit on the day of Pentecost, organized his kingdom in her gospel order, and took his seat upon his Mediatorial throne, as the child born, the Son given, whose name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, and The Prince of Peace, bearing the government upon his shoulder, inaugurated upon the throne of his father David, to order and establish his kingdom with judgment and justice, from henceforth even forever, giving assurance that “Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end.”
In another sense still, he comes in the quickening and manifestation of his saving power and grace, to every one of his dear children; and he comes to them when all their toils and pains are fulfilled, to bear their ransomed spirits home to their eternal inheritance in the heavens.
In the ministry of his everlasting gospel, “Behold he cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see him.” He is seen by his saints in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory, riding on the wings of the wind, and making the bright clouds of his witnesses his chariots. He comes to avenge his saints, and to destroy their enemies; and lo! He comes to abide with them forever, to dwell in them, and to walk in them. But in the theme of the apostle, to which our attention is called by our brother, he comes in most transcendent power and indescribable glory, when he shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know him not, and obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe, in that day.
Once, as we have seen, he came to bear a cross, but now he comes to wear a crown of dazzling splendor. Once he came to be humbled, to bear shame and reproach; but now in all the radiant glory of the Father, and all his mighty angels. Once he came forth weeping, and bearing precious seed; but now to harvest his sheaves and bear them in triumph to the highest heavens.
November 15, 1868.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 7
Pages 290 -299